Concept to Reality in One Semester
seniors Lewis Sibley and Paul Gorbold (pictured) developed a solar-powered
greenhouse ventilation unit as a senior project in their mechanical
engineering technology class.
was one of several proposals submitted by local businesses in need
of engineering assistance to Jeff Hoffman (Engineering
Technology). Hoffman assigns the projects to his students at the
start of each semester. They spend the rest of the time designing
and developing feasible solutions. Other projects completed this
semester included a garden watering system and a floor layout.
we’re trying to do is to simulate situations they will face as engineers
when they graduate,” Hoffman said.
students are given objectives and a small budget to complete the
assignment. Seniors Mike Hoy and Nate Tobias designed the watering
system, which uses a moisture sensor to determine when greenhouse
flowers need to be watered. Their system automatically begins watering
when the sensor determines the soil is too dry. Greenhouse owner
Kim Smith-Potts was in need of a cost-efficient, environmentally
friendly system to reduce manual labor.
value for us lies in drawing on the engineering expertise, helping
us develop efficiency that is cost effective and environmentally
friendly,” Smith-Potts said.
Lewis Sibley and Paul Gorbold (pictured above) also completed a
project for Smith-Pott’s greenhouse. They invented a solar-powered
ventilation system that turns on fans if the temperature in the
greenhouse gets too hot. “It’s
been more like a real-world application – different than homework,”
said that while the students’ creations help out small business
owners, the projects in turn help students learn project management
and presentation skills. The fact they're working for a real business
is a motivating factor.
the students really work hard,” Hoffman said. “They get pretty creative.”
senior projects included a new floor layout for a company’s new
manufacturing facility at KI Sawyer, designed by Joshua Wasilewski
and Mike Johnson.
came up with a floor plan that will help the company provide barrier-free
assembly production with an emphasis on the continuous flow of material,”
Wasilewski said. He added that although the class is labor intensive
for two credits, it provided him with a real-life experience that
will be beneficial to his future career.
small business owners such as Smith-Potts, the work of the students
appreciate the simplicity of the designs and know that there was
actually a lot of thought that went into this,” she said.